Galileo's first two IOV (in-orbit validation) operational satellites will be launched in the second half of 2011. The IOV phase consists of qualifying the system through tests and the operation of two experimental satellites (already in orbit) and a reduced constellation of four IOV operational satellites and their related ground infrastructure. The two Galileo IOV satellites will be launched aboard a Soyuz rocket from the European Space Port in French Guyana (South America). The Soyuz launch site has been certified to proceed with the launch campaign. The launch site is almost identical to other Soyuz sites in Kazakhstan and Russia, though adapted to conform to European Safety Standards.
The launch of the first two operational satellites is scheduled for the second half of 2011, followed by the launch of the third and fourth operational satellites in the first half of 2012.
On 1st April, the European Space Agency confirmed (following qualification by the ELS) that the complex for the Soyuz launch was now ready for its first campaign and transferred responsibility to Arianespace.
The most visible difference at the launch site is the mobile gantry of the Soyuz launch complex which stands at 45 metres tall. It provides a protected environment as payloads are installed on the vertical launcher.